Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ReThink Afghanistan vs. Why Afghanistan Matters

You know about the Brave New Foundation’s project advocating the rethinking of Afghanistan, right? No? Well, in February last year, Brave New Foundation released the first chapter of “Rethink Afghanistan,” a new full-length documentary about the U.S.’ escalating military involvement in that country. Directed by Robert Greenwald, creator of Uncovered: The War on Iraq and Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, Rethink Afghanistan was released and posted in installments on YouTube and at rethinkafghanistan.com.

Late last year, the Allied Joint Forces Command HQ/NATO also started a contest called “Why Afghanistan Matters.”

The Allied Joint Forces Command HQ Brunssum is a NATO headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands. It is directly subordinate to SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe, and provides oversight to the International Security Assistance Force, in Afghanistan.

The Contest started on 1 Dec, 2009 and ends 30 Apr 2010.  Submissions are accepted until 31 Mar, 2010, with one month after reserved for voting only.

The “Afghanistan Matters” Photo Contest (the Contest) is open to persons who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry.  JFC HQ Brunssum personnel involved in judging or determining eligibility of contest submissions are not eligible to compete. 

Offer apparently void where prohibited by law or national service regulations. Where would that be?  In any case, I was struck by item #8 of its contest rules, reprinted below:

8. Submission may not contain, include or involve any of the following (as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion): obscene, profane, lewd, defamatory content; crude, vulgar or offensive pictures, depictions, images, language, gang signs and/or symbols. Gratuitous violence. Nudity, explicit graphic or sexual activity. Commercial products such as clothing, toys, food and/or their trademarks, brands, logo or endorsements. Hard liquor use or product images. License plates, name tapes or identification, phone numbers, personal addresses (physical or email) or otherwise. Illegal drug or alcohol use or abuse. Derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups, humiliate other people (publicly or otherwise), any assault or threatening of others. Material which defames Afghan culture or Islam is specifically prohibited. Trespass or the violation of other people (publicly or otherwise) or their property, any assault or threatening of others. Illegal (discriminatory, harassing) or inappropriate activity, behaviour or conduct (i.e. inflicting emotional distress). Revealing classified or sensitive techniques, tactics or procedures. Any other content, display, materials and/or images that is or could be considered inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. All submissions must be suitable for publication as determined in the sole discretion of Sponsor. Entrants may not copy or otherwise plagiarize the Submission from any source. Any Entry not in compliance with the above and does not meet Contest requirements will be disqualified. All submissions will be reviewed for content before being published or judged; however, such review does not relieve the Entrant from responsibility for compliance with the Official Rules.

Submissions may not contain “gratuitous violence” – I think that means violence that is not justified or violence for the sake of being violent;  like shock and awe in video games - they're not acceptable.

Go ahead and check out the beautiful images of Afghanistan here. I found a couple of pictures with a medic but do not expect to see any gory, gut-wrenching horrors of war; you have to go elsewhere for that.  

There is something obscene about a war zone sanitized like this.  A beautiful country with majestic mountains (no poppy fields), hardworking and hardy people (half needs help, half wants to blow you up), Coalition forces bravely on patrol, children with heart-breaking smiles; and no blood or body parts anywhere in sight.  

Five digital cameras up for grabs (Nikon D90 SLR with Nikon 18-200 mm lens)! That’s about $12,500 at least, but cheaper than hiring a Madison Avenue PR executive.    

Excuse me -- I think I’m going to be sick. Look away, look away ... don't watch!

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